Preeclampsia: A Prenatal Condition is linked to Autism

pregnancy-issueA new study published in the journal of JAMA Pediatrics found that mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder are more than twice as likely to have suffered from Preeclampsia during their pregnancy than mothers without the condition.

Preeclampsia is a serious condition affecting pregnancy that is characterized by high blood pressure and increased levels of protein in urine. Preeclampsia symptoms typically include swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches, and changes in vision. The condition normally appears after twenty weeks of pregnancy and the only known way for the body to return to normal function is to give birth.

Preeclampsia is currently known as the most common and dangerous condition to affect pregnancy. According to the study, “the condition affects about three to five percent of all pregnancies and accounts for 40 to 60 percent of maternal deaths in developing countries.”

The study was conducted by Cheryl Walker and used a “population-based, case-controlled study investigating any links between the prevalence of autism and the prevalence of preeclampsia. The study also examined whether or not the risk of autism is associated with the severity of preeclampsia.

Researchers monitored over 1,000 children over the duration of the study between the ages of 2 and 3 years of age. The children were participants in the Childhood Risk of Autism from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study. Out of the 1,000 children, more than 500 participants were diagnosed on the ASD spectrum, 200 were diagnosed with a developmental delay, and 350 children developed typically. Out of the 1,000 children participating in the study, 100 percent of the mothers were diagnosed with preeclampsia during their pregnancy.

The study concluded that children with ASD are more than twice as likely to come from mothers suffering from preeclampsia than children without the disorder.

The reason that preeclampsia affects development is that it can limit nutrients and oxygen from getting to the brain. These effects have been linked to both autism and overall developmental delays.

Another study potentially linked a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy to preeclampsia.

To read the original article by Heather Johnson on the study, click here.

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